The Sarajevo Hagaddah: Held Hostage in a Crumbling and Shuttered Museum

An exquisite 14th-century illuminated manuscript, one of few artifacts to have survived the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, is in danger. In a story not unlike that of many Sephardi families, the Haggadah migrated first to Venice and then to Sarajevo, then the capital of the Ottoman province of Bosnia and home to a thriving Jewish community. The manuscript managed to survive both the Holocaust and the fierce fighting in Bosnia in the 1990s. But today the ongoing tensions between Bosnia’s central government and its autonomous Serbian Republic are holding it captive:

Now the Sarajevo Haggadah sits in limbo in the bankrupt National Museum on the Bosnian capital’s main drag. The museum closed its doors on October 4, 2012, after its employees went without salaries for an entire year. . . . The museum, along with several other cultural institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was left without a government body responsible for running and funding it, leaving it outside the budgets of the country’s various administrative bodies.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Bosnia, Hagaddah, Jewish art, Manuscripts, Sarajevo, Sephardim

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security